The article is written by Tejaswini Kaushal, a student at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. This article deals in detail with Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and analyses its nature, scope and ingredients in light of statutory provisions and judicial precedents.
This article has been published by Sneha Mahawar.
A district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate, or any other administrative magistrate authorised by the state government may issue orders to prevent and treat urgent cases of perceived danger or nuisance under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, a colonial-era statute that has been preserved in the Code. In circumstances of imminent nuisance or suspected danger of an incident that could create problems or harm to human life or property, Section 144 is applied. Public gatherings are generally forbidden by Section 144 of the CrPC. In the past, Section 144 has been used to impose limitations in an effort to suppress rallies that could spark riots or other forms of violence. When there is an emergency, the Executive Magistrate has been given the authority to enforce Section 144. Internet shutdowns and restrictions on telecom services have frequently been enacted under Section 144.
Some of the recent incidents have increased the popularity and importance of this provision in the past few years. Due to the increase in COVID-19 spread over the past two years, Section 144 of the CrPC has been implemented in several locations around India.
Some recent instances include the following:
- Section 144 was implemented in the North Goa region on February 12, 2020, as a result of intelligence reports regarding a potential terrorist threat along the western shore. In a notification, the North Goa District Magistrate stated that it would be in effect from February 11 to April 10 for 60 days.
- In honour of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru’s and Maqbool Bhat’s respective passing anniversaries, Jammu & Kashmir experienced internet outages from February 8 to 10, 2022 and Section 144 was enacted.
- To stem the spread of the coronavirus, which had already claimed thousands of lives worldwide, the Delhi government enacted Section 144 on March 23, 2020. As the virus expanded throughout India, some states slapped Section 144, like the Delhi government, in order to stop the local spread of COVID-19.
- Restrictions under Section 144 were implemented in Mumbai on September 17, 2020, due to the city’s persistent rise in coronavirus cases. With the Covid-19 pandemic gripping the entire world since early 2020, Mumbai has been one of India’s worst-hit cities and this action was taken to reduce the spread, as was done in several other cities.
Meaning of Section 144 CrPC
The Executive Magistrate of any state or territory may make an order to forbid the gathering of four or more people in a location under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973. Each participant in such a gathering called an ‘illegal assembly’, could be charged with rioting, according to the Indian Penal Code.
In circumstances of imminent nuisance or suspected danger of an incident that could create problems or harm to human life or property, Section 144 is put into effect. In accordance with the order made pursuant to Section 144 of the CrPC, there shall be no public gatherings or gatherings of any type, and all educational institutions shall stay closed throughout the time that the order is in effect. Certain acts, actions, or occurrences that are permitted in the usual course are also prohibited by Section 144 CrPC. It is implemented to guarantee the preservation of tranquilly and harmony in a place. Additionally, it is illegal to prevent law enforcement from dispersing an unlawful assembly. The authorities are also given the ability to prohibit internet connection under Section 144.
Features of Section 144 CrPC
- The fundamental goal of Section 144 is to uphold law and order in places where unrest could flare up and disturb daily life.
- It imposes limitations on handling and moving weapons of any type within the specified jurisdiction. Three years in prison is the maximum penalty for such an offence.
- All public gatherings and protests will be completely prohibited while this ban is in effect.
- All educational institutions must remain closed and there must be no public movement in accordance with the order issued under this clause.
- Obstructing law authorities from breaking up an illegal gathering is considered a punishable offence.
- The ability to prohibit internet access in the area is also granted to the authorities.
Scope of Section 144 CrPC
This Section’s action is anticipatory, which means that it is used to limit specific actions even before they take place. In emergency situations where there is a suspected risk of an occurrence that could seriously disrupt public peace and order, anticipatory limitations are typically implemented. The urgency of the problem is the main driver of the exercise of Section 144, and its effectiveness is determined by the chance that certain detrimental events can be avoided. The government’s fundamental duty is to maintain public peace and calm, and the aforementioned authority is granted to the Executive Magistracy to help it carry out that duty successfully in emergency situations.
In the cases of Manzur Hasan v. Muhammad Zaman (1921) and Shaik Piru Bux v. Kalandi Pati (1969), the principles that must be considered prior to the implementation of this clause were further developed and approved. As follows:
- The power must be deployed quickly in order to protect public tranquillity and harmony.
- In situations where there is a conflict between the public interest and private rights, private rights may be temporarily suspended.
- In a proceeding under Section 144, questions of title to properties, entitlements to rights, or civil issues cannot be resolved.
- The Magistrate should exercise their power under Section 144 in support of those rights and against those who obstruct their lawful exercise where those questions have already been resolved by civil courts or judicial pronouncements. This will allow it to carry out that function effectively during emergent situations.
In the case of Radhe Das v. Jairam Mahto (1929), a piece of property was at issue in the argument. The petitioners requested a limitation on the respondent’s access to the property, and the Magistrate granted their request under Section 144. However, while the legal process was underway, the respondents also requested the same ban on the petitioners, which the Magistrate ultimately granted under the same clause. The respondents filed the current action in response to this ruling on the grounds that the order breached their ownership of the property. The Court ruled that if the circumstance calls for any action, then the individual rights of a person might be waived for the greater good of public peace and tranquillity.
Rationale for the application of Section 144 CrPC
Only when it is likely to prevent any of the following events from occurring can orders under this provision be justified:
Annoyance can be either mental or physical. A specific level of proximity between the annoying object and the annoyed person is required in the case of physical annoyance, however, there is no proximity issue with mental annoyance. Both types of annoyance are covered in this Section.
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code can be utilised against newspapers in appropriate circumstances of incitement to conduct crimes that are harmful to life or health or to disturb police personnel on duty. There must be a risk to life or health, or of an altercation, riot, or breach of the peace, even when an order under this section deals with a “nuisance.”
Unless they are likely to cause a disturbance or a hazard to life or health, simple defamatory statements or even highly offensive abusive publications against important authorities cannot be dealt with under this clause. By employing it to address offensive materials and defamation that is unlikely to cause a breach of peace, the clause should not be misused.
Injury to human life
A Magistrate lacks the authority to issue an order under this provision only for the protection of property when there is an injury to human life. Anytime someone has an injury, they may turn to this section for assistance. Therefore, even if the act or measure complained of is not one that, if permitted to proceed, would constitute an offence, it would nevertheless provide grounds for a mere civil action.
Disturbance of public tranquillity
An act shall be forbidden under this clause if it could lead to obstacles, disturbance of the public peace, etc. It is not sufficient to state that it is conceivable to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between the forbidden act and the disruption of public peace by extending many possibilities one after the other. The relationship must be plausible or close, not just hypothetical. The absence of any proximate or reasonable link between the illegal act and the perceived risk to public peace will be a ground upon which the High Court is required to act where there are no conditions unique to the locality and the matter is of broad impression.
An order cannot be imposed to benefit one party over another
The magistrate is given broad authority under this clause, and a serious threat to the public peace may justify interfering with even private interests. To obtain a meaningful advantage over the opposing party in a dispute, however, one party may not rely on this clause.
Validity of Section 144 CrPC under the Constitution
In the well-known case of Madhu Limaye v. Sub-Divisional Magistrate (1968), Justice Hidayutallah ruled that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is not unconstitutional if utilised properly and that the possibility of abuse does not justify its repeal. And when properly interpreted, the Code’s provisions do not go beyond the restrictions on freedom set forth in the Indian Constitution, which is precisely why the Court found that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is lawful and constitutional.
It cannot be maintained that the extensive authority that Section 144 grants to some magistrates establishes unjustifiable restrictions on certain fundamental rights because the appropriateness of the order is subject to review. Therefore, the Magistrate’s being granted such broad authority does not violate the rights protected by the Constitution. In the present matter, the Magistrate issued a prohibitive order under Section 144 to stop a brawl between two labour union members. The petitioner in this case contested the clause because it gave the magistrate arbitrary authority. The Court argued that because this power can only be used in an emergency, it cannot be described as arbitrary. The Court claimed that because the power could only be used in an emergency, it in some ways limited the magistrate’s ability to act arbitrarily. It is not necessary to repeal a section only because there is a risk of abuse.
The District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate, or any Executive Magistrate particularly empowered by the State Government is given the authority whenever it appears to the Magistrate that he may issue a written order if it is necessary to
- immediately stop a public disturbance, or
- quickly address a potential threat.
The order must contain all relevant case facts and serve as a summons. It must either urge somebody to refrain from doing anything or to behave in a certain way with whatever they own or are in charge of. The rigidity in procedural aspects of Section 144 aims to ensure that its application is not misused.
Details of Section 144 CrPC
Situations in which Section 144 CrPC may be imposed
Only one of the three situations listed in this section can be used to bring this Section into force, namely:
- obstruction, annoyance, or injury to anybody who is lawfully employed;
- danger to human life, health, or safety; or
- disturbance of public peace, such as a riot or affray, allows for the issuance of a directive.
The order may be made ex parte in an emergency. It may be addressed to a specific individual, all of the residents of a certain neighbourhood, or the broader public when it is located in a specific location. The State Government or the Magistrate may revoke or modify the order either on its own initiative or in response to a request from the party who was wronged. When the application is received, the applicant has a right to be heard. If the application is turned down, the reasons why should be put in writing. The order can only be in effect for a maximum of eight months.
In the 1989 case M. Das v. D.C. Das (1961) it was determined that the Executive Sub-divisional Magistrate’s jurisdiction is concurrent with the Executive Magistrate’s jurisdiction. Preventing a breach of public peace is the major goal of the provision. Any authority with jurisdiction may start the provision if it is a preventative measure. In such cases, the priority of jurisdiction cannot be taken into account. Therefore, interference in revision is not necessary because the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, not the Executive Magistrate, initiated the action.
Furthermore, in the case of Madhu Limaye v. Sub-Divisional Magistrate of 1971, it was observed that the urgency of the situation and its effectiveness in increasing the chance of being able to stop some negative events are at the heart of the action taken under this clause. Since acting ex parte is permitted under the provision, it goes without saying that the emergency must be sudden, the emergency must be sudden, and the repercussions must be severe enough. However, it is not a general rule that an order issued pursuant to this section cannot be made without taking testimony.
The petitioner’s attorney made a lot of arguments, but the Supreme Court disproved each of them one by one. The judgement listed five reasons that supported the validity of Section 144.
- The Magistrate has the authority to issue orders ex-parte under this clause, but typically notice is served on the individual the order is being issued against first. The Magistrate should only issue an ex-parte order in the direst circumstances.
- The people who were wronged by the order also have the right to contest it on the grounds they deem suitable. This bolsters the idea that the authority conferred by this clause is not capricious.
- The individual contesting the magistrate’s order is also given a chance for a hearing and a chance to show reason in order to support the aforementioned. As a result, this part also complies with the norms of natural justice.
- The Court went on to say that the action of the Magistrate was more reasonable and based on cogent reason because the aggrieved party had the right to contest the legality of the decision.
- Finally, the fact that the order under Section 144 is not subject to appeal is compensated for by the High Court’s right to revise under Section 435 of the Code when read in conjunction with Section 439 of the Code. The High Court may either reverse the decision or request the relevant facts from the Magistrate.
To ensure the magistrate is held accountable, the High Court has the option of quashing the ruling or requesting the material facts. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in the aforementioned case, there have been several instances where the courts have adopted this strategy and determined that the preventive action permitted under Section 144 is appropriate.
Furthermore, a restriction that runs counter to the fundamental values of justice and liberty cannot be justified. Checking whether the party who has been wronged has a right of representation against the limits that have been placed or that are being considered for placement is one way to determine whether a restriction is acceptable or not. No one’s freedom may be taken away without first giving them the chance to defend themselves, and that chance must be appropriate, fair, and reasonable. The courts must also determine whether the limits go beyond what is necessary or are applied arbitrarily.
Conditions to be fulfilled prior to assumption of jurisdiction
A magistrate must first determine that there is sufficient justification for proceeding under this section and that prompt prevention or remedy is desirable. The second requirement is that the magistrate must determine that the direction he is about to issue will likely prevent or tend to prevent obstructions, annoyance or harm to anyone lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety of a disturbance of the public tranquilly or a riot or an affray.
An order can only be issued under emergency circumstances. Any order issued under non-emergency conditions is invalid. Whether the dispute is likely to result in a breach of the peace or a disturbance of the peace must be determined by the Magistrate on an empirical basis. As stated in Section 144(4), no order under this section shall remain in force for more than two months from the date of its issuance, and the urgency of a case of nuisance or apprehended danger is essential to its treatment under Section 144 of the Code, the orders to be passed under this section must be of a temporary nature. The Magistrate granting the order need simply be concerned that a nuisance or danger may arise in order for Section 144 to apply. No evidence of such apprehension is required. The existence of an emergency that required an ex parte order under this section or the fact that there wasn’t enough time to give the party affected by it notice should be made clear in the Magistrate’s record.
An order made pursuant to this section must be supported by reliable evidence. The Magistrate cannot issue an order based only on one party’s complaint without such evidence. The proper use of this section is to address a short-term emergency or maintain the status quo, not to pass an order that effectively acts as a mandatory injunction in favour of one of two opposing parties, giving that party the ability to completely deny the other of his regular legal rights and that too finally for all intents and purposes.
Specifications of a Section 144 CrPC order
The following guidelines are required to be followed while creating an order under Section 144 of the CrPC:
Orders issued pursuant to this section must always be in writing because the phrase “a written order” is used in Section 144. Before the accused can be charged with disobeying an order, it must first be in writing and formally published. A prosecution under Section 188 of the IPC for disobeying a merely verbal direction cannot stand if there is no written order.
Due to the fact that this section gives a Magistrate the authority to significantly restrict the subject’s freedom, it is essential that he promulgate his order in terms that are clear enough to let the general public and those who will be impacted by it understand exactly what they are prohibited from doing. For this reason, Section 144 mandates that the Magistrate explicitly state the relevant facts that support any such ruling in any such order. The Magistrate is not required to take evidence before making such an order, nevertheless. The order under this section must be one, which is absolute and definite in terms.
Order must be specific and precise in terms. The passing of a conditional order that will be made absolute later or one that is laden with ambiguity is not contemplated by Sections 144(1) and 144(2). This is crucial because the person to whom this order is issued needs to be aware of precisely what he is forbidden from doing.
The Magistrate must include the following in the order issued pursuant to Section 144. Both the act or conduct that is prohibited as well as the people who are barred from doing so are included in this list. Names of specific people should be included in the order, and the forbidden act should be described reasonably precisely. Any ambiguity should be avoided to the greatest extent practicable.
Expression of material facts
Material Facts must be expressed in order. The magistrate’s order must include a statement of the ‘material facts’ he or she believes to be relevant to the case and upon which they are based. Only the ‘material facts’, not the justifications or explanations or the specifics of the information on which the order is based, must be disclosed according to Section 144. When the order omits crucial information, it is overturned. An order under Section 144 must demonstrate a causal link between the forbidden act and the threat identified. The order cannot be upheld if it cannot be demonstrated that there is an urgency warranting its issuance.
Declaration of the prohibited items
The forbidden item must be declared explicitly. The item that is prohibited must be indicated clearly and is improper to allow any room for ambiguity regarding whether or not a particular action is prohibited for a particular person. The order must specify who it relates to, what they are obliged to do, and what they are banned from doing. The people against whom the instructions are directed must be mentioned unless the order is directed to the broad public. This is provided under Section 144(3). It is quite challenging to enforce an order that is not specific and explicit. For instance, if an order were to be given to the general public, which frequently uses public or private roadways in a certain city, it would be deemed sufficiently specific as to location and hence could not be deemed vague. However, it must be noted that the order’s length must coincide with the emergency.
Persons to whom orders can be directed
The conventional norm that the command must be directed to a specific individual is broken by this sub-section. There may be times when it is impossible to distinguish between individuals whose behaviour needs to be controlled and those whose behaviour is obvious because the order is in the interest of public order and the interests of the broader public. When the population is as huge as described in the section, a general order may thus be required.
No command may be given to the general public unless they are frequenting or visiting a certain location. Order to the public under this section that forbids the printing or distribution of false or alarmist claims was found to be unconstitutional in the Emperor v. Sat Narain and Another (1939) case. The decision was made that the order would be effective to prevent the owners or occupants of private homes in the village from collecting such missiles in their homes when the order was prohibiting the public generally against collecting brickbats or other missiles in the village. The area that a court order under this provision applies to needs to be specified in such a way that the general public can immediately understand what is banned there.
The term ‘particular place’ refers to a restricted area, such as a market or a park, but it can also refer to a section of a town as long as it is sufficiently distinct from other parts of the town and has clearly defined boundaries, preventing confusion among members of the public about the location of the restricted area. A person who frequently frequents or travels to a “specific place” is considered to be a resident within the meaning of this provision. Even otherwise, the sub-section covers him.
The legislation does not intend to forbid frequenting or visiting the specific location to which this sub-section refers. Rather, it intends to forbid performing some conduct on a day when such a location is frequented. The Supreme Court ruled that the types of orders described in Section 144(3) are manifestly meant to avert threats to the public’s health, safety, or peace and quiet. Section 144(6) of the Code makes it clear that they are only short-term orders that cannot continue longer than two months from the time they are made.
In the 1993 case of Dr. Anindya Gopal Mitra v. State of West Bengal, the Police Commissioner denied the BJP, a political party, permission to hold a public meeting and refused to relax the prohibitory order, stating that while the holding of a meeting could not be completely prohibited, necessary restrictions could be imposed and preventative measures could be taken.
Service of the prohibiting order under Section 144 CrPC
Once the order is properly formatted, the Magistrate must serve it to the people who are specifically named in the order. Section 134 of the Criminal Procedure Code is invoked in this case. However, there may be times when it is impossible to tell who needs to have their behaviour monitored and who can get away with it. In these circumstances, a general order may be necessary where the number of persons is so large that distinction between them and the general public cannot be made. In these circumstances, a general service of order is done through the publication of the order in a daily newspaper, etc.
Duration of a Section 144 CrPC Order
Any order issued under Section 144, as stated explicitly in the Section, shall be subject to Sub-Clause (4) and shall only be effective for a period of two months. It has already been stated that a magistrate is not authorised to occasionally revive or resuscitate his order. Such use of authority would unquestionably be abuse.
Every order issued under this section has a two-month expiration date. According to the ruling in the 1913 case of Govinda Chetti v. Perumal Chetti, it is not within the authority of the magistrate to periodically revive or resuscitate his order. The Magistrate has no authority to grant what is effectively an order for a perpetual Section 144 CrPC order.
According to Usharani Bej v. Mongal Munda, 1917, the successive issuing of orders under this clause to postpone a resolution of the issue is an unjustified use of the Magistrate’s authority. As a result, under this clause, the 1973 case of M. E. Supply Co. v. the State of Bihar cannot be justified since a magistrate’s directive to an electric supply company to resume providing electricity to a municipality in default causes the supply to continue long after the order’s validity has expired. However, as was determined in the case of Ram Nath Chowdhry v. Emperor, 1907, the order is not improper if it fails to specify the duration of the order.
If the state government determines it is necessary to stop specific events from disrupting safety, health, or peace, it may extend this time period from two months to a maximum of six months from the date the initial order expires. However, the same power should not be used arbitrarily or excessively, and imposing it should be done in a just and fair manner. In extreme circumstances where there has been a flagrant miscarriage of justice or evident procedural flaw, the Sessions Judge or the High Court may intervene in revision even with reference to an order made under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code. It was decided in the 1977 case of Zila Parishad of Etawah v. K.C. Saxena. All decisions made under the Cr.P.C. are more definitive than decisions that only call the accused. Therefore, the proceedings cannot be regarded as entirely interlocutory. According to the 1983 ruling in Maula Bux Ansari v. Ram Rup Sah, the sixty-day period must be measured starting from the date of the prohibitory order issued at the time of the beginning of the proceedings rather than the date of the final order.
Powers under the provision
According to the clause, a magistrate has the authority to order anyone to refrain from doing something or to make decisions regarding specific property that person owns or is in charge of. This typically refers to limitations on freedom of movement, the right to bear arms, and illegal assembly. It is commonly accepted that Section 144 forbids gatherings of three or more people. When directed at limiting one person, an order is made if the magistrate thinks that doing so will likely avoid obstruction, irritation, or harm to any person who is lawfully employed, a threat to human life, health, or safety, a disturbance of the peace, a riot, etc. Unless the state government deems it necessary to prolong it, orders issued under Section 144 are valid for two months. The order can only be in effect for a total of six months, though, in any scenario.
Punishment for violation of Section 144 CrPC
People can be jailed for breaking Section 144, which prohibits carrying any kind of weapon in the region where it has been implemented. Three years in prison is the maximum penalty for such an offence.
People who disobey the prohibitory orders would be charged under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which prohibits any disobedience to order properly promulgated by public servants. According to the official, the police have the authority to use the two subsections under the applicable Section 188 against the violate or violators. The nature of the offence determines the exercise of the provisions under the legislation.
In a nutshell, if there is a minor infraction of more than four people being present as a group in a public area, Section 188 (1) of the IPC would be used to start the process against the people. According to Section 188 (1), the offender would be detained by the police for a while for disobedience and released on bond. The official stated that, if found guilty following a trial, the sentence under the legislation might result in up to one month of simple jail. The police, however, record violations under Section 188 (2) of the Act if the gathering has the potential to jeopardise public safety or law and order.
If a person violates the sub-sections of Section 144, police may arrest him. But in this case, the police can hold the offender for a maximum of 24 hours before releasing him on bond. If found guilty, the maximum penalty under the legislation is six months of simple imprisonment. Both of the act’s subsections are cognizable, meaning that a violation of Section 144 would require an arrest and subsequent release. If found guilty, the maximum penalty under the legislation is six months of simple imprisonment. Both of the act’s subsections are cognizable, meaning that a violation of Section 144 would require an arrest and subsequent release.
When someone is arrested for violating Section 144, the police have the authority to charge them with a cash fee between Rs 1,200 and Rs 2,500.
In case of vehicle confiscation
In some cases of exercising Section 144 CrPC, the police have the authority to temporarily seize the violator’s vehicle. Action against the offending vehicle may also come as a result of extending the time of confiscation. The driver’s licence may potentially be impounded by the police.
Difference between Section 144 CrPC, lockdown and curfew
Section 144 forbids gatherings of four or more persons in the designated area, and people are required to remain indoors during curfew for a specific amount of time. Additionally, the government completely restricts traffic. If anyone is found violating the law, he is booked under Section 188 for disobeying a public servant.
When there is a curfew, the Collector and the Police Commissioner are in charge. Aside from Section 144, other necessary services are also terminated. Banks, ATMs, schools, offices, colleges food stores, vegetable and milk shops, and emergency services including hospitals are all made to close. Only some necessary services may operate with advance notice. On the street are only authorised administrative and law enforcement employees. When the curfew is in effect, the district administration is not required to take any more action.
According to the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, a Collector or Chief Medical Officer in a given area may impose a lockdown. They now have the authority to prohibit groups of five or more people from assembling in close proximity. Hospitals, banks, ATMs, grocery stores, vegetable markets, and milk shops are still open, nevertheless. There may be no limitations on the media and hotels operating in some cities. In the event of a lockdown, the police are prohibited from making any arrests without the judge’s approval. They could issue a warning and tell everyone to return home. Sections 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code give the police the authority to arrest someone if they become combative. In the event that someone evades quarantine, Section 271 of the IPC may be used to charge him.
Criticism of Section 144 CrPC
The Section has been at the brunt of a lot of criticism and some of the following is the reasoning provided for the same:
- The issue is that it is overly broad and that the section’s language is ambiguous enough to grant a magistrate complete authority that could be abused.
- Affected parties have frequently claimed that the clause is overbroad and gives the magistrate unjustified unfettered power. The initial legal defence against the order is a revision application, which must be submitted to the original issuing authority.
- Additionally, it has been suggested that enforcing prohibitory orders throughout a very vast area is unjustified because different locations have different security situations and require different approaches to be taken.
- If the order violates a person’s fundamental rights, they may file a writ petition in the High Court. However, those who feel wronged contend that the state would frequently have already breached their rights even before the High Court got involved.
- A revision application to the magistrate himself is the most instant countermeasure to such an order.
Suggestions to improve the applicability of Section 144 CrPC
Using Section 144 can be helpful when dealing with emergencies. The executive branch is vulnerable to abuse and misuse since there is no specialised judicial monitoring and no precise tailoring of the broad executive powers with specific aims. In light of the same, the Magistrate must conduct an investigation and note the urgency of the situation before acting in accordance with this clause. Furthermore, the legislature must strike a balance between the necessity to maintain individual liberties and other freedoms guaranteed to individuals under the Constitution’s fundamental rights and the need to grant plenary powers to deal with urgent sensitive situations.
It can be concluded that, despite being potentially arbitrary and discretionary, Section 144 is an essential component of the array of indicators that are initiated by the executive body of any district so as to avoid as well as manage urgent situations after careful analysis of the relevant section in light of judicial pronouncements and academic commentaries.
There have been many legal actions brought against the section questioning its constitutionality, and there have also been many rulings maintaining it. Although the Magistrate is given discretionary powers under this section, those powers are subject to a number of restrictions in order to prevent any arbitrary or unjust order. The use of this power is more logical given that the High Court has the authority to review a Magistrate’s decision under this clause.
Additionally, it has become necessary for the Magistrates to have these powers due to the rise in riots and other situations that threaten public peace and quiet. This is done in order to ensure that the common people have the safety and peace that they need to survive. However, at this point, it may be argued that there appears to be a need to strike a balance between the legislature’s grant of plenary powers to address urgent situations and the need to safeguard the personal liberty and other freedoms guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution’s fundamental rights, particularly under Article 21 of the Constitution, unless there exist urgent or unusual circumstances.
The State Government may issue other instructions by publication in the Official Gazette if there is a threat to human life, health, or safety, or if there is a chance of a riot or brawl. Magistrate’s order must be judged to be an order without legal force and an expression of opinion contained therein must be deemed to be devoid of any legal force or effect if this crucial prerequisite to assuming jurisdiction is not found to exist. This clause should only be used in emergency situations It shouldn’t be permitted to replace any other legal provisions that might be more suitable. And the Magistrate should conduct an investigation and note the urgency of the situation before proceeding under this clause.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is Section 144 of CrPC?
Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 allows the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory may make an order to forbid the gathering of four or more people in a particular location.
- What is the nature of the offence under Section 144 CrPC?
The offence under Section 144 CrPC is criminal in nature, cognisable and bailable.
- What is the rationale for the application of Section 144 CrPC?
The application of Section 144 CrPC is legitimate when it is being used to restrict annoyance, injury to human life, and disturbance to pubic tranquillity. The order under this section must not be imposed to benefit one party over another.
- Why has Section 144 CrPC been criticised?
Some of the issues with the section are that it is overly broad, ambiguous, and can be abused. Further, the process of getting relief is extremely slow. Additionally, enforcing prohibitory orders throughout a very vast area is unjustified.
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